Biden speaks with Netanyahu after delay raised questions
“It was a good conversation,” Biden told reporters at the Oval Office shortly after the call ended, without elaborating.
In a post on Twitter, Netanyahu said he spoke with Biden in “friendly and warm” terms for about an hour, reaffirming the US-Israel alliance and discussing issues related to Iran, regional diplomacy and the coronavirus virus.
He attached a photo of himself on a widely smiling phone with a map of the Middle East on the background.
The White House said last week that why Biden waited so long to call Netanyahu after speaking with a dozen other world leaders, questioning whether the delay had nothing to read.
“He will talk with him soon,” press secretary Jane Saki said. Later, he confirmed to Netanyahu that Biden would have his first telephone call to the Mid-Leader.
Nevertheless, the decision to withdraw a call for the Israeli Prime Minister for his first month in office hardly seemed like a coincidence. A source familiar with the White House’s thinking said that Netanyahu was hesitant to wait for the call.
The Israeli leader behaved calmly with President Barack Obama and his close alliance with Trump and the Republican Party, as well as the long time it took him to congratulate Biden on his victory, went unnoticed.
Other current and former US officials said that Biden was “rightly shaping” America’s relationship with Israel and that with the challenges posed by China, Russia, climate change and other problems, the Middle East is not a top priority.
For his part, Netanyahu reduced the delay.
Netanyahu said at a news conference last week, “(President Biden) calls leaders in the order they accept, North America, then Europe.” “He hasn’t reached the Middle East yet. I think he will call me. Trust me, I have no doubt about it.”
On Friday, Biden is expected to include his foreign policy approach in more detail in a virtual speech for the Munich Security Conference, including the prospects of Iran returning to the nuclear deal.
Israel opposed that agreement, and the issue is likely to be a rift between Netanyahu and the Biden administration, as it did under Obama.
But on other issues, the two are aligned, with Trump’s administration helping the broker over support for normalization agreements between Arab states and Israel.
CNN’s Kylie Atwood, Oren Lieberman, Andrew Carrie and Amir Tal contributed to this report.